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Afghans graduate from first Mi-17 "Train the trainer" course

5/9/2011 - SHINDAND AB, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Seven Afghan Mi-17 instructors graduated from the first Mi-17 "Train the Trainer" upgrade course May 4 taught by AAF and U.S. Air Force instructors at the Afghanistan Premier Flight Training Center here.

"Afghan aircrew instructors are pivotal to growing independent combat flying forces, ultimately leading to a self sustaining air force," said Maj. Sam Kraemer, who is assigned to the 444th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. "These students are the first wave of the train the trainer program at Shindand Air Base, designed to help transition the training of the AAF from coalition forces to Afghan control."

The AAF Mi-17 class 90-01 certified four pilots, two flying crew chiefs and a flight engineer for instructor duties. The students were evaluated on emergency procedures, remote-area operations, tactical formation flying and aerial gunnery.

"I still love to fly at this point, and look forward to teaching students back at Kandahar," said Afghan air force 1st Lt. Abdul Wahid, a graduating instructor flight engineer who has been flying for 25 years.

The course goal is for instructor pilots who graduate to be able to utilize their training to build a professional, fully independent, and operationally capable Afghan air force. The graduates' briefing skills are on track to meet this goal, said Maj. Drew Grigson, a 444th AEAS pilot adviser.

"During this class, we borrowed a train-the-trainer concept we use back home," he said. "This provides AAF instructors with the skills and knowledge of training professional aircrew and future instructor candidates."

Also graduating from class 90-01, were two Afghan Mi-17 flying crew chiefs. Sergeants Qari and Norallah from Kandahar Airfield, completed the course, which included defensive fire training at local ranges. During their graduation sortie, they also directed combat on-load and off-load operations with Afghan National Army forces as part of an infiltration exercise. The exercises help provide combat-ready flying crew chiefs to their operational units.

"The AAF Mi-17 instructors and flying crew chiefs are excited to return to their operational units at Kabul or Kandahar (Airfield) and get back in the fight for a stable and free Afghanistan," Major Kraemer said. "After the graduation ceremony, Shindand instructors provided the new graduates advice, handshakes and contact information for around-the-clock help to truly stay 'Shona ba shone ... ooga pa ooga' (shoulder to shoulder)."

(Courtesy of 438th Air Expedtionary Wing Public Affairs)

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